Is Darwinism settled science or ‘zombie science’? Doctrine encounters intellectual turbulence

by WorldTribune Staff, May 15, 2017

Skeptics of such fashionable doctrines as evolution and climate change are seen by the secular humanist establishment as the deplorables of science. But many of those skeptics are scientists and are now challenging the dominant status of Darwinism in schools worldwide.

An anti-Darwin petition to parliament in Belgrade, signed by dozens of intellectuals, calls for a review of the teaching of evolution and demands that alternative theories be taught in Serbian schools, according to a May 14 report by RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty (RFE/RL).

Charles Darwin.

Biologist Jonathan Wells, calls evolution “zombie science” because, as a reviewer of his new book said, “no matter how many times critics point out the deficiencies of these icons, showing how threadbare science is being deliberately oversold, evolutionists won’t take no for answer. Failed arguments for evolutionary orthodoxy rise from the grave, again and again and again.”

“I tell you that the [Darwin] theory of evolution and claiming that man came from monkeys [sic] offends all [religious] believers, not just Orthodox [Christians],” said Belgrade University professor Ljiljana Colic, whose failed attempts as education minister to oust Darwinism from the school curriculum led to her resignation in 2004.

Colic told that she was happy to sign the petition because she “absolutely agrees with everything written in it.”

Zeljko Tomanovic, dean of the biology department at Belgrade University, countered: “It is the old creationist ideas that are totally anachronistic and unscientific. There is no scientific knowledge that supports the aforementioned claims [of creationism] and that deny evolution.”

Pro-creationists in Serbia have tapped into an “anti-Western, anti-globalist current that has festered in Serbia as high unemployment (16 percent in 2016) and a stagnant economy combined with Brussels’ perceived indifference toward Belgrade’s aspirations for closer relations and eventual EU membership,” the RFE/RL report said.

“There is a disillusionment with liberal democracy and even an anger against the West,” an RFE/RL Balkan correspondent said, adding that “this dogmatic, conservative movement is on the rise.”

Serbia’s National Assembly said it had received the petition, which was signed by 166 people, including doctors, professors, priests, and politicians, some of them reportedly also members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences.

Wells, in his new book “Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution” counters the idea that science consumers need, above all, to stop questioning Darwinism.

“Instead of ‘quietly’ explaining to the ignorant masses that they should settle down and believe what they’re told, ‘Zombie Science’ proposes that we turn up the volume and let science consumers know what scientists say behind closed doors,” Evolution News said in an April review of the book.

In the book, Wells recalls some of the denunciations that evolutionists have directed at advocates, like Jonathan Wells himself, of the theory of intelligent design. Intelligent design, we’re told, is “analogous to the denial of the Holocaust,” “bent on literally destroying science as we know it” (Massimo Pigliucci), “zealots…chipping away at evolutionary science,” our “heritage of reason,” threatening to bring not Enlightenment but “Endarkment” (Gerald Weissman), endangering “secular democracy itself” and heralding in the “Dark Ages II” (Marshall Berman).

Newtonian physics in its day was decried in some similarly hyperbolic terms, the review noted. Wells reminds readers that Newton’s critics also claimed that he practiced non-science and, as Thomas Kuhn observed, “would return science to the Dark Ages.”

“If evolutionary thinking were anywhere near as sturdy and unassailable as its supporters contend, would they really need to cling to their icons as they do, meanwhile screeching insults at proponents of alternative views? For anyone with some common sense, the question is self-answering,” Evolution News said.

Wells ends on an optimistic note. As intelligent design researchers gain backers around the world and the exhaustion of Darwinism becomes unmistakable to objective observers, the ice is slowly melting. “Here comes the sun,” he writes, quoting a favorite Beatles song, “and the reign of zombie science is coming to an end.”

Evolution News also noted that last month’s “March for Science” in Washington, D.C. was “about demanding that science, and the public, conform to expectations and embrace only orthodox ideas on evolution, climate change, and more.”

And having Bill Nye as the march’s “talking head” was a perfect selection, wrote Stephen Meyer at The Stream:

“Nye is a good example of someone who promotes science as a close-minded ideology, not an open search for truth. He attacks those who disagree with him on climate change or evolution as science ‘deniers.’

“Real science encourages debate. It doesn’t insist that scientists march in lockstep. Or that they speak with one voice. In fact, scientists disagree on far more issues than the March organizers admit.”

On the evolution question, “Nye claims the evidence for evolution is ‘Undeniable.’ That’s how he put it in the title of his recent book. By ‘evolution’ he means textbook neo-Darwinism. So the case for evolution is ‘undeniable’? In truth, many leading scientists, including evolutionary biologists, reject neo-Darwinism. Many biologists now doubt the creative power of random mutation with natural selection. But that is the core idea of the theory.”